Battle of Palias

Article

July 1, 2022

At the Battle of Palias, on June 23, 1757, the troops of the British East India Company clashed with the army of the Bengal navy Siraj-ud-Daul, supported by troops of the French East India Company. The British, commanded by Colonel Robert Clive in battle, managed to defeat the great superiority of the Indians and French. This battle marked the real beginning of the creation of the British Empire in India.

Overture

From the beginning of the 18th century, until then, the most powerful state of the Indian subcontinent, the Mughal Empire faced internal and external problems, and its gradual decentralization, period of instability and general disintegration began. At that time, rivalry between France and Great Britain over influence in India intensified, which was also reflected in Bengal, which was run by Navabs, who enjoyed an increasing degree of independence from the central government. In 1756, Alevardí Khan's grandson, Siraj-ud-Daul, took the place of the deceased Bengal nava, Alivardi Khan. Ambitious, Siraj-ud-Daul, determined to consolidate his power in the country, ordered European East Indian companies to pay special fees. The French and Dutch complied with this order, but the British refused. In addition, tensions between Europeans were heightened by the possibility that the current impending conflict between the British and the French would be transferred from Europe to India as well. East Indian companies therefore set out to fortify their trading bases, but this provoked Siraj-ud-Daul. The next steps of the young nava gave the British a suitable excuse for military action.

Conquest of Calcutta

Concerned by reports of the British fortifications of Calcutta, Siraj-ud-Daul therefore decided, shortly after his accession to the throne, to suppress British influence in the country and attack this colonial European base. The British justified the fortification work with the alleged threat of a French attack and at first did not take Navab's threats too seriously. However, a large Bengali army soon occupied the British colony at Kasimbázar and subsequently besieged Calcutta itself. Due to the disastrous command, poor fortifications of the city and weak crew, the Navab's army seized Calcutta after a two-day siege on June 16. Fort William surrendered in front of the invaders on June 20. The defeated British, who did not save themselves in the hasty evacuation of the fortress, were promised decent treatment by the navel. Nevertheless, the captured men were imprisoned one night in a small cell measuring five and a half times four and a quarter meters. According to some estimates, up to 146 prisoners were to be crammed into this Black Hole. Indian sources mention only 39 prisoners in this context. The number of prisoners by today's authors is estimated at 39 to 69. After one night in this cell, twenty-three survivors were brought to light, who had to march naked through the city streets. This act of Siraj-ud-Daul served the British as a suitable excuse to justify their subsequent conquest of India.

Clive's expedition

News of the fall of Calcutta reached British-controlled Madras in mid-August of that year. It was then decided that Calcutta should be recaptured and that Siraj-ud-Daul should be overthrown and punished for his actions. Colonel Robert Clive, an army colonel of the East India Company, who returned from a sick leave in England. Clive was given command of an expeditionary force of more than 2,500 men, including 500 British East Indian troops, 150 infantry, and nearly 1,000 Indian troops to be transported to Bengal with a fleet under Admiral Charles Watson. On 16 October, the British fleet, which consisted of four naval ships, a destroyer, an incendiary ship and three warships delivered by the East India Company, left the